Interview with Melanie Lemahieu

  • How did you start your business in photography in the first place?

 

My father was an amateur photographer, I have learned analog photography on the fly, helping my father to process photos in the darkroom. When digital photography started to be accessible, I decided to go to a photography school in order to learn digital photography, Photoshop techniques and to become an “official” photographer. After a few years taking assignments on the side next to my office job as a customer service specialist and after graduating from the Dutch photography school Fotovakschool in Amsterdam, I did everything in my power to turn my passion for photography into a full-time occupation

 

 

  • What makes Melanie Lemahieu different from other professional photographers?

 

I’m a passionate and enthusiastic photographer, I think every person is photogenic, capturing feelings, small moments and interactions between people quickly became a passion and I also always had an insatiable creative itch. I truly love helping people and capturing their emotions and the connections between them. I know how to capture the memorable essence of each event and to offer imagery with a vibrant twist to my clients, imagery that has real heart & soul.

With a background in marketing and customer service, I truly love helping people and have the mission to provide my clients with a great experience, I am dedicated and work as a fly on the wall!

 

 

  • What kind of camera gear do you use?

 

I am using 2 Canon 5D Mark IV bodies together with different prime lenses.

 

 

  • What is your favorite lens and why?

 

It is difficult to say, I love all my lenses, depending on the situation and the requirements I need different lenses, but if I have to pick one, I would choose my zoom lens 24-70 mm 2.8 L II USM

 

 

  • What’s your favorite tool/software to edit your pictures?

 

Lightroom

 

 

  • When you go on travel, what are the essentials you take with you in your bag?

 

My Canon 5D Mark IV with my 24-70 mm lens for landscape as well as my 70-200 mm lens for close-ups when I cannot approach the subject, for street or wildlife photography

 

 

  • How do you keep improving your photo skills? / How do you educate yourself?

 

I am part of many professional photographers groups where many new techniques and ideas are discussed, I am reading professional press and follow different tutorials online

 

 

  • What picture that you have taken, you are the most passionate/proud about and why?

 

Tough question! A lot of photos I have captured have a special meaning for me! If I have to pick one, I would choose a shot I took from a small Cessna plane without any door flying over the Island of Ameland. Without passion and love for discovery, I would not even have stepped into that scary little plane! I took that photo before I actually dared to “jump in the void without a parachute” to become a full-time freelance photographer. When in doubt or in a difficult time, it reminds me of how turning a passion into my work is a blessing and even if it sometimes things are challenging, it is important to persevere

aerial view of the mudflat coastline at low tide with water wind
  • Who is your ‘mentor’? / Who is someone your look up to (photography-wise)? 

 

There are so many great photographers who inspire me as Martha Holmes, Linda McCartney, Mary Ellen Mark, Vivian Maier, Reza Deghati, but not only, also painters and filmmakers as Rembrandt or Truffaut. 

 

 

  •  What is your favorite location in Amsterdam to shoot?

 

NDSM, Amsterdam Noord, my favorite playground, so many possibilities to create!

  •  What is the one thing that takes a picture a good picture, in your opinion? 

 

There are different ingredients for a good picture. It is like cooking, 100 g of technics, 100g of attention to details, 100g of patience, 100g of composition, 100g of luck being at the right time at the right place with that perfect light, 100g of courage to approach a subject or guide your model, 100g of talent but overall, as much as you need of passion!

 

 

  •  What tip would you like to give to people who just started in photography?

 

Don’t go crazy buying the most expensive equipment right away, keep your camera with you when going around and keep on shooting

 

 

  • Since everybody nowadays has a camera in their pocket, what makes a professional photographer different from people who just take photos for a hobby?

 

It is true that nowadays cameras are able to produce very fine quality images. A professional photographer is well aware of this. This is why, even if a professional photographer very likely uses the best possible professional equipment, he/she advertises the images he/she took, not the gear he/she uses. It is also very true that what even the best camera on the market doesn’t feature are experience and knowledge.

Experience and expertise are primordial and there is not any shortcut to it. Not only a professional photographer has followed a proper training, thoroughly learning photography techniques and concepts, building up skills and expertise, he/she has also spent many hours taking pictures in various environments, exposed to many settings, lighting conditions and subjects and has been able to cope with many different situations.  He/she is able to adapt and act on-the-fly, ready to capture that unique moment.

He/she knows posing techniques, is able to guide large groups, and a crucial requirement in photography, he/she is able to master lighting techniques.

 

 

  • What is your favorite discipline within your photography skills? For instance; do you like wedding photography more than event photography? Why?

 

My favorite area is to photograph events whether it is corporate events, private events such as weddings, or concerts and festivals. I really blossom when I have the chance to meet people from all walks of life and cultures, but most of all because I truly love looking for, sharing and capturing unexpected moments, portraits emotions and the connections between people, like a fly on the wall.

 

 

  • What are your goals as a photographer in the not too distant future? What is the first step you would take to achieve this goal?

 

Well in this particular period with coronavirus, I would say that expectations and goals have shifted a bit, I would love to be able to work and live again as before, to capture a big event with a lot of smiling people!

 

 

  • On what event would you like to take pictures as a professional photographer? / What is the number one event (as in a big concert for instance) you would like to take pictures of as a professional photographer?

 

Unfortunately many artists I really wanted to photograph passed away before I had a chance to get there or even before I was born! But I would love to take pictures of a concert of Iggy Pop or Bruce Springsteen, and not from the sound tower 100 m away! From the pit or even better the stage! (Dreaming is allowed right?!)

I would also dream to be an official photographer at the Cannes festival!

 

Your guide to the best photos in Amsterdam!

Whether it is for a family session, a vacation photo session, a solo, or a romantic couple photoshoot, you probably want to profit from the most photogenic spots. Whether it is to bring some nice memories back home, celebrate a special occasion, a bachelorette party, there are many beautiful and photogenic locations in Amsterdam!

However, some may be quite crowded and therefore not very comfortable and easy to use for a portrait session. The last thing you want is a crowd around and particularly in the background.

But using the right locations at the right time will offer the opportunity to have a nice and fun family shoot or a romantic couple session.

1- The best time frame

 

With regards to the timing. Choose preferably a time frame in the early morning after sunrise or evening/late afternoon before sunset.

There are indeed two important useful pieces of advice to keep in mind for the best experience: the light and the frequentation.

Particularly during the summer, the city tends to be quite crowded during the day.

If the weather is sunny, the light is really too harsh and unflattering. This leads to a strong shadow and shiny skin, which is something you don’t want.

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loveshoot couple portrait spots amsterdam 23
loveshoot couple portrait spots amsterdam 20

The best tip for a successful photoshoot in Amsterdam is to choose the right timing. In the event it is a nice sunny day, it is recommended to start shooting in the morning when the sun is coming up, or in the afternoon, a bit before the golden hour. This will give your photo a nice soft natural light.

Hard sunlight is amplified by its reflection on the water of the canals and the numerous windows of the surrounding buildings, which is something you don’t want when doing a photoshoot in Amsterdam.

These tips can be followed when capturing portraits but also when shooting landscapes, in Amsterdam but also everywhere else in the world!

Of course, if the sky is cloudy, this would not apply. However outside rush hours are always better to avoid the crowd!

2 – The best spots

 

Here are a few very nice and cozy locations:

The Brouwersgracht is an Amsterdam canal that connects the Singel with the Singelgracht. The canal marks the northwestern boundary of the ring of canals.

Not only Brouwersgracht is a beautiful area to wander around, but it also offers a lot of different photogenic spots and backgrounds.

From Papiermolensluis you can continue on Prinsengracht, one of the most well-known canals in Amsterdam, the third and outermost of the three main canals of Amsterdam.

Prinsensluis and Leliessluis are typical bridges offering a picturesque background with typical Dutch gable houses and the Westerkerk tower.

loveshoot couple photoshoot portrait spots amsterdam

Prinsengracht also offers many hidden gems.

To find them, make small detours and pay a visit to the little side streets and perpendicular canals aside.

The Reguliersgracht, literally the “regular Canal”, is a charming and bucolic canal bordered by trees and punctuated by lovely bridges which offers a great perspective in the background

NDSM Wharf is a former shipyard located on the banks of the River IJ in Amsterdam Noord. This spot is the perfect playground for a creative and urban family photoshoot or a solo session, but also a romantic couple or wedding photoshoot!

It also offers trendy cafes and terraces for a small briefing with your professional photographer before your photoshoot or a nice break after your session.

Leroy & Milan 27 Mei 2020 (93) resize insta
Leroy & Milan 27 Mei 2020 (57) small instagramm
Huwelijk Kim & Martijn 28 september 2018 - Melanie Lemahieu (268)-2
Solo Photoshoot NDSM young lady in front of colorful grafitis

3 – The best season

 

There is not any preferred season to shoot beautiful portraits or landscape photos, each season has its special light and atmosphere.

And Amsterdam is also beautiful when the sun is not shining! For example with an overcast sky and even under the rain you can have a beautiful photoshoot in Amsterdam. Particularly in the autumn and the winter!

A romantic or dreamy winter light will also lead, to an outstanding result. Sometimes as beautiful, if not more, than photos shot during spring or summer. Fog is also very photogenic!

Bachelorette party photoshoot Amsterdam session photo EVJF
Bachelorette party photoshoot Amsterdam session photo EVJF

5 Tips for a well prepared and successful couple photoshoot

A couple photo session is a wonderful way to capture a moment of complicity, whether you are a young couple who wants to crystallize his nascent love, a bride and a groom-to-be looking for original photos for their wedding invitations or wish to train before the photoshoot on the D-Day, or if you want to immortalize your marriage proposal, celebrate a dating or wedding anniversary or simply to share a good time. 

Ready for the romantic getaway? We now only have a final question to clear up!  How to choose your outfit for a couple photoshoot? Here are a few tips to prepare your session!

 

  • Choose comfortable and practical clothes.

 

Of course, you can wear anything you like! It can be a casual, chic, glamorous or formal outfit, it can be your preferred pair of jeans, a suit, a wedding dress or a tuxedo, etc.. as long as it is comfortable for you to wear and it reflects your personality!

If you are going to walk a bit between different locations, think about a spare backup pair of comfortable shoes.

 

  • Coordinate but do not match colors.

 

You can reach a cohesive look without wearing an outfit with exact same colors. 

Instead, determine a color scheme; by choosing tones that complement each other, the images will indeed have a more harmonious and natural look. 

To do so you can select two main colors and then add softer tones to accentuate and complete your color palette. 

Also avoid too vivid/flashy colors as well as entirely white clothes items, as they often do not give a nice render. If you have to make a choice, pastel colors, neutral toning, earthly tones can never go wrong!

A great source of inspiration and help to coordinate colors can be found on Pinterest, you can also use this tool 

On location lifestyle couple portrait photoshoot Amsterdam
  • Pick out accessories to add style and texture to your pictures.

 

Adding accessories to your individual outfits, like a scarf, belt or hat for example, will bring variety to your shots but also strengthen the united and harmonious aspect of the images. 

For example, if one of you is wearing a blue and white tartan shirt, your other half can add a scarf with the same pattern to her/his outfit to create a more cohesive feeling

Also, think about coordinated umbrellas if your session takes place on a rainy day, it will pimp and color up your photos!

  • Avoid busy and distracting patterns and large logos

 

Clothes with disparate patterns or large logos can lead to inconsistent results and be quite disturbing. Heavy prints and abstract patterns can overpower your pictures. Avoid patterns that clash. You can, of course, however, choose one pattern element. In this case, again, please prefer soft tones

For example, a beige outfit with blue prints for one and a plain shirt in the same tone of blue for the other

 

 

  • Take the session location into consideration.

 

Another helpful point to consider when choosing your outfits is the location of your photoshoot.

Will it be in a park with a lot of shades of green, in the old city center of Amsterdam with a lot of brown and orange tones, in an urban modern neighborhood with a lot of vibrant graffiti’s, on the beach where there are plenty of neutral tones?

Pick a color scheme that will complement the background and not be discordant with the surrounding colors, but be careful not to fade in.

But most importantly, already have some fun styling your outfit and let your personality shine!

Here you can also find information about Amsterdam hotspots and a few tips to prepare your photo session and capture your best memories!

And if you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me!